Last Updated on
1. This is an appeal against the decision of the Subordinate Judge of Anantapur who has given a decree in terms of an award passed on private arbitration between the plaintiffs on the one side and the defendants on the other. The decree follows the terms of the award. It is pleaded before us that the arbitration award is invalid for two reasons. The first is that the arbitrators did not allow the defendants to adduce evidence or even to state their case. Now, in the terms of the reference itself which was signed by the parties, it is clearly stated that
both the parties have represented before you what each of us has to say about his respective rights in the family property.
2. It is, therefore, a most disingenuous statement in the petition by the defendants that the arbitrators did not even allow them to state their case. As regards the contention that the arbitrators did not even allow them to adduce evidence, we read the reference to mean that the arbitrators had already heard the case of each side and all that remained was to pass a decision after such further information as the arbitrators themselves desired. There is no hint in the order of reference that any evidence was sought for by either party or expected to be put forward. It is in evidence that the arbitrators heard the parties several times and it is not suggested that on any occasion the defendants requested them to hear the evidence on their behalf. It is argued that as a matter of law the arbitrators are bound to give notice to parties to adduce evidence, and that as this was not done in this case the award is invalid. A ruling of this Court, to which one of us was a party reported in Gopalan v. Suryanarayana A. I. R. 1926 Mad. 752 is cited as an authority for that proposition. The conduct of the proceedings depends upon the order of reference, and if in that order of reference there is an implied agreement that further evidence is not to be put forward by the parties and that the parties have sufficiently and completely stated their case, the award cannot be invalid because the arbitrators did not give notice that they were prepared to receive evidence. Gopalan v. Suryanarayana A. I. R. 1926 Mad. 752 was decided on a different point. In that case the arbitrators had taken evidence, but in their award they ignored the evidence completely and purported to decide the case, not on the evidence, but on their own knowledge. One of them in fact purported to have decided not even on his own knowledge, but on information given him by two of the other arbitrators. Obviously that case is quite different from the present, in which the parties when making the reference set out that they had already represented before the arbitrators what each of them had to say, and then directed the arbitrators to make the award, stating that they had given them full power to do so. We think there is no substance in the first point.
3. The second point is that the arbitrators did not all meet together on all occasions to discuss the award and that they did not all take part in the decision and the final judgment. We do not think that the evidence to which our attention has been called establishes this proposition. It is pointed out that some arbitrators say that they met two or three times, and some other arbitrators say that they met five or six times, but whether a real discussion of the question went on at these meetings, at which all the arbitrators were not present, is not made clear. It may be that the arbitrators who were present, finding that the others were absent, postponed the discussion until all the arbitrators were present. It is clear from the evidence that the final decision was come to a day shortly before the award was written in the presence of all the five arbitrators. Some stress was laid upon a statement by P. W. 4 that he did not “take part in the decision,” he being one of the arbitrators. But the same witness also says that
we as a body of arbitrators commenced to decide the matter in the daytime.
4. He was not asked to reconcile these two statements, nor was his attention pointedly drawn to this apparent inconsistency. He further says that the award was read over to him after it was written, and he approved of it. We think that the evidence in the case justifies the learned Judge’s conclusion that nothing in the evidence shows or suggests that any of the arbitrators surrendered his conscience or his judgment.
5. We therefore see no reason to interfere and we dismiss this appeal with costs.